Driving tour of Link Light Rail construction
After buying biodiesel with Andy on Sunday, we decided to take an impromptu driving tour of some Link Light Rail construction sites, starting in SODO.
To begin with, rail is laid along the E-3 Busway. The last time I was down there, a tamping machine was settling the rock trackbed, and rails were being straightened and clamped to the ties. Most of that rail is now completely laid, and sections of rail are waiting in large stacks to be installed in the bus tunnel to the north. You can already see where the old rail has been removed.
The elevated section that leads to the Beacon Hill tunnel is almost finished - parts are now painted, and segments leading down to the maintenance facility are in place. The O&M facility itself has insulation going up - it really looks like a building now, rather than just a steel frame. We slowed down for these parts, but they're nothing new, and we kept going south toward the Duwamish crossing.
There was little visible change at Duwamish, but lots of foundation work - re-bar for the support column on the north side of the bridge is already sticking well out of the ground. There's cleared land along part of the alignment toward the I-5 crossing northbound, but we didn't venture over there just yet. We kept going south near the alignment.
Here's where it started to get really interesting. I hadn't been along I-5 in quite some time, and there's now been area cleared just to the west of the freeway for support columns to go up. This is exciting - commuters are for the first time getting a glimpse of construction on a project that will eventually benefit them!
We turned off onto SR-518 to see if there were any new support columns up. Immediately to the right we noticed that a lot more land has been cleared as a staging area - re-bar frames for several columns sat waiting just to the north of the highway. I spent too much time looking at them - by the time I looked up, there were already columns next to us! Twice as many are up now as were the last time I was at the airport.
At this point, we could see a yellow metal framework just above the treeline. I thought at first it was the station under construction, but as we got closer, it became apparent what it was: A huge crane, sitting atop the columns, pulling segments of guideway up and putting them into place. It looks as if it crawls along the guideway as it builds. I can't wait to see how that looks in another month.
On the way back, we saw where embankments are being built on either side of I-5 for the bridge overhead. This is the first time I've seen construction there - I hope people start to get the idea soon that we are, indeed, building a rapid transit system.